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SRAM XPLR - suspension fork, AXS suspension dropper, other stuff

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SRAM XPLR - suspension fork, AXS suspension dropper, other stuff

Old 08-12-21, 04:34 PM
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SRAM XPLR - suspension fork, AXS suspension dropper, other stuff

Discuss!

The suspension dropper is pretty clever. AXS-only so far. Rigid when topped out and when partway down it can be soft. I think this is opposite from the PNW Coast? You can choose the damping in the AXS setup.

I like the wide cranksets. Looks good for my Stormchaser which has a 73mm BB shell. They have been doing this for a year, I guess?

I just don't know why anyone would haul along a whole suspension fork only to get 40mm of travel. Wasn't Fox's entry 2"? Price is ok, though, I'd have expected like a third more just because of the road bike tax. The OEM version has no compression damping! which means no lockout either, just rebound. That's pretty dire but also looks like same chassis so not a bad upgrade path. To adjust rebound it looks like you need to take out the maxle nut, that seems pretty bogus and done for looks. in fact the rebound adjustment is hidden, which is cooler. There's a threaded hole in the bottom of each leg that I guess is for a full size fender.

12x10-44 cassettes which I guess will go on an xD road driver. Shimano has a similar range cassette, but no one noticed because it was in a 2x mountain group that no one is buying. Of course Shimano can't match the X-Dome. Off piste, this will also work with 1x11 speed generation RD's which top out at 46t.

The wheels don't seem special, but I'm sure they are nice.
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Old 08-12-21, 05:04 PM
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There is seemingly a market for most anything these days. If it's perfect for someone, then awesome.

It certainly is a bunch of stuff that I dont need or even want for how I ride.
But again, to each their own.
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Old 08-12-21, 05:08 PM
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More on the fork. HUGE volume spacers in both sides of the spring, appropriate for the tiny travel. I suppose the damper has different valving than in the Sid.

Service manual (pdf link) https://www.sram.com/globalassets/do...ice-manual.pdf

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Old 08-12-21, 09:06 PM
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I don't get the forks, like at all. It just seems like pandering to those who refuse to ride anything but a drop bar bike. The flexible stems and even the goofy future shock on my Diverge seem like better options if you don't want an MTB. A good quality XC hardtail may be a better option instead.

I do see some value in the expanded drivetrain options, especially the cassette. The lack of a true XC cassette was a big hole in the Sram AXS line up. No mention of any improvements in the braking, hopefully they addressed that too.

The dropper has some value in the suspension aspect but at $600 for just the post(no activation switch included at that price) it seems expensive even though it's pricing is in line with the other reverb axs posts.

Agreed that it's a bunch of stuff I have little interest in.
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Old 08-12-21, 09:13 PM
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Just like the 700c Rock Shox Mag 21 from the 90ís. Itís all junk unless they get it under about 1200gm. Edit, I just looked this up. 1226g. For some, this is pretty decent function with a weight penalty that most can live with. It would still be sub 20lbs for most higher end builds.

I really like their drivetrain now. Iíll probably dump a ton of money on it.

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Old 08-13-21, 11:52 AM
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I'd be dumping some of my bucks on axs if I could get my hands on anything.
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Old 08-13-21, 04:14 PM
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I believe that in about 2-4 years hardtails will gain more market share as those buying fully suspended gravel bikes will 1) suffer from n+1 and 2) realize that as they continue to push the limits of their gravel bikes on trails, will want the benefits of a mountain bike. My first bike as an adult was a hardtail Kona that I rode everywhere. I had a second wheelset with 32mm slicks that I used as I started getting into road riding. Sure it was a slog on those road only rides, but it killed in the woods! And my skills were not very good...but the bike made up for it. I miss that Kona.
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Old 08-13-21, 05:05 PM
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Studying some more...

The cassettes are not x-dome or power dome style. They correspond to Force and Rival in groupset level. They have the four smallest cogs out of one piece of steel and are otherwise like a GX cassette with each cog pinned to the next one. The more expensive one has an aluminum 44t cog. That's not exactly high tech, definitely price per lightness. They are not as light as an x-dome cassette would be. They are 373 and 412 grams, heavier than the GX 11 cassette at 325 grams and way heavier than the XX/XO 11 speed cassettes at 268 grams. Wonder if those new AXS derailleurs would work at 11 speed? Wonder if there is a Red-level dome cassette coming? On the other hand that 10t-11t shift is really a big ratio difference from the 10-12 on the MTB cassettes and then it crams its other cog in the small half too. 32-36-42 and 32-38-44 are both awkward sequences.

Shimano was kind enough to give us a 37t on their previous generation 11 speed cassette, but you probably don't care as much about having a perfect ratio at that end of the cassette. But their XT/XTR 12x10-45 is kind of strange, instead of giving the XC guys a corncob it adds a gear in the bottom half. Why? And their design is still way behind SRAM's dome, they are still doing spiders and using five titanium and three aluminum cogs to get to 357g

11 speed ratios 10, 12,14,16,18, 21,24,28,32, 36, 42 (GX,XX,XO)
12 speed ratios 10,11,13,15,17,19, 21,24,28,32, 38, 44 (XPLR)
12 speed ratios 10, 12,14,16,18, 21,24,28,32, 36, 40, 45 (XTR/XT)
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Old 08-15-21, 10:48 AM
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More forking around

The real headline here is that this is
1) a "real" fork, with all the internal features of a good MTB fork, air spring with adjustable pressure, and possibly stroke, shim valve cartridge damper with separate compression and rebound circuits, and it looks like they have put the effort in to adjust the volume to tune the air spring the way they want, not just stack it up with existing parts
b) it's road standard axle and brake (the Fox entry was a shortened MTB fork with 15mm axle and post mount brakes)

The air spring sure looks like the style found in up-to-Gold forks, which means it equalizes when everything in the negative side stacks up. Travel would be adjusted with spacers/tokens in between the positive piston and negative seal head. This is also off-piste, they are advertising it with only one travel setting.
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Old 08-16-21, 02:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Bryan C. View Post
I don't get the forks, like at all. It just seems like pandering to those who refuse to ride anything but a drop bar bike. The flexible stems and even the goofy future shock on my Diverge seem like better options if you don't want an MTB. A good quality XC hardtail may be a better option instead.
An XC hardtail with drop bar (a bite like a monster bike or kona sutra ultd) would be nice though. I prefer XC riding but I unfortunately have several miles of boring tarmac in between trails. These tarmac sections are a lot faster in the drop. On a XC bike the upright position is much slower.
and I come from MTB, I never had pure road bike so I am definitely not a road who cannot let go...
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Old 08-16-21, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Fentuz View Post
An XC hardtail with drop bar (a bite like a monster bike or kona sutra ultd) would be nice though. I prefer XC riding but I unfortunately have several miles of boring tarmac in between trails. These tarmac sections are a lot faster in the drop. On a XC bike the upright position is much slower.
and I come from MTB, I never had pure road bike so I am definitely not a road who cannot let go...
I don't get monstercross bikes either but that's a different thread.

If you think slapping a bunch of extra weight onto your bike will make it faster then go for it. I disagree with that line of thinking. If you are worried about being fast on tarmac sections then maybe you should try that road bike after all? Or just let some air our of your tires when you hit the dirt sections. There are always trade offs. When trying to build a bike that is good at everything sometimes you end up with a bike that doesn't do anything exceptionally well which seems like a waste of time and money to me.

My biggest gripe with the gravel bike is how uncomfortable fast chunky downhill sections of trail are. Sure the suspension forks would help but then I would sacrifice many of the things that I love about my gravel bike. It climbs great, super efficient due to the lack of suspension, and how light it is. Even with my future shock my Diverge weighs in at 19.5 lbs.

Sure wider tires and a suspension fork are indeed more comfortable, but certainly less efficient and in my opinion would ruin the over feel of a gravel bike. There are much better options in the MTB world these days. My current generation Stumpjumper climbs and descends better than my Diverge, and is way more comfortable on single track and even the cattle scarred trails that are local to me.
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Old 08-16-21, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Bryan C. View Post
I don't get monstercross bikes either but that's a different thread.

If you think slapping a bunch of extra weight onto your bike will make it faster then go for it. I disagree with that line of thinking. If you are worried about being fast on tarmac sections then maybe you should try that road bike after all? Or just let some air our of your tires when you hit the dirt sections. There are always trade offs. When trying to build a bike that is good at everything sometimes you end up with a bike that doesn't do anything exceptionally well which seems like a waste of time and money to me.

My biggest gripe with the gravel bike is how uncomfortable fast chunky downhill sections of trail are. Sure the suspension forks would help but then I would sacrifice many of the things that I love about my gravel bike. It climbs great, super efficient due to the lack of suspension, and how light it is. Even with my future shock my Diverge weighs in at 19.5 lbs.

Sure wider tires and a suspension fork are indeed more comfortable, but certainly less efficient and in my opinion would ruin the over feel of a gravel bike. There are much better options in the MTB world these days. My current generation Stumpjumper climbs and descends better than my Diverge, and is way more comfortable on single track and even the cattle scarred trails that are local to me.
i was just pointing out that a xc hardtail with dropbar would be faster on connecting tarmac section.
manufacturers are blurring the different styles and you may not understand or like it, the kansas gravel race was won on a gravel fitted with suspension.
gravels are so popular that the segment is splitting into a more road long distance style and a more off road XC style.
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Old 08-16-21, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Fentuz View Post
i was just pointing out that a xc hardtail with dropbar would be faster on connecting tarmac section.
manufacturers are blurring the different styles and you may not understand or like it, the kansas gravel race was won on a gravel fitted with suspension.
gravels are so popular that the segment is splitting into a more road long distance style and a more off road XC style.
You have your opinion and I have mine. If suspensions are the winning formula for gravel races then why do so few racers use them? A fast rider is fast no matter what you put them on.

Since this is a thread about some new gravel products, and isn't in the gravel racing forum. Maybe you should bring your argument to them about how suspension gravel bikes are superior. I don't care what racers are doing, and I doubt they care what my opinion is either.
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Old 08-16-21, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Bryan C. View Post
Sure wider tires and a suspension fork are indeed more comfortable, but certainly less efficient and in my opinion would ruin the over feel of a gravel bike. There are much better options in the MTB world these days. My current generation Stumpjumper climbs and descends better than my Diverge, and is way more comfortable on single track and even the cattle scarred trails that are local to me.
All forks are suspension forks in some sense. They can flex more than you might appreciate. Suspension fork like this put the flex under control and in the correct direction. And funny thing, that means you can run a smaller tire, a point SRAM makes in their ad copy. For a lot of conditions a suspension fork adds efficiency, in the same way as somewhat larger tires - at least compared to the overbuilt stiff-as-glass disc forks on nearly all gravel bikes, that nearly require a huge tire just to ride comfortably. And the comfort makes long rides less painful, for the same output. The other way to get this kind of travel is with premium thin-wall steel. But both tires and even flexy rigid forks provide nearly no damping, still relying on the rider's jiggling corpus.

I have not been able to find anything about how many watts a suspension fork loses in riding conditions, except some thoughtful but full-system level projects from Jan Heinie that showed it working pretty well. I've looked! Maybe if I got really bored I could go look up someone's dyno chart for a Charger race day damper and then see if anyone has made a travel histogram for a gravel race. But I rather doubt I'll find it. Most real suspension work is devoted to long travel racing bikes (like EWS) and they concentrate on reducing fatigue and improving feel.
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Old 08-16-21, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
All forks are suspension forks in some sense. They can flex more than you might appreciate. Suspension fork like this put the flex under control and in the correct direction. And funny thing, that means you can run a smaller tire, a point SRAM makes in their ad copy. For a lot of conditions a suspension fork adds efficiency, in the same way as somewhat larger tires - at least compared to the overbuilt stiff-as-glass disc forks on nearly all gravel bikes, that nearly require a huge tire just to ride comfortably. And the comfort makes long rides less painful, for the same output. The other way to get this kind of travel is with premium thin-wall steel. But both tires and even flexy rigid forks provide nearly no damping, still relying on the rider's jiggling corpus.

I have not been able to find anything about how many watts a suspension fork loses in riding conditions, except some thoughtful but full-system level projects from Jan Heinie that showed it working pretty well. I've looked! Maybe if I got really bored I could go look up someone's dyno chart for a Charger race day damper and then see if anyone has made a travel histogram for a gravel race. But I rather doubt I'll find it. Most real suspension work is devoted to long travel racing bikes (like EWS) and they concentrate on reducing fatigue and improving feel.
You do realize that this concept of short travel suspension forks has been around since the early 90's? Riders quickly found that 1.5" of suspension travel just wasn't enough and the industry moved on. That's the best part of this whole gravel suspension fork thing, for less than $300 you can go onto Craigslist and buy an old MTB and see how silly it is for yourself.
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Old 08-16-21, 09:54 AM
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RE: steel forks.

It really comes down to how you build the steel. My Spectrum with a beautiful lugged and curved fork actually rides rougher than my Tallerico with its straight steel legs.

Both are lugged and Columbus but the difference is actually pretty dramatic. I would expect the opposite by looking at the two.
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Old 08-16-21, 10:22 AM
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For sure. Probably the gauge of the steel is far more important than the looks of the bend. I don't know those bikes in particular but in Heine's tests he used a fork from his custom, made with some ultra thin premium steel, and anther from a hybrid, made from thicker high tensile. The latter was by far the worst off in the tests. And that really makes me wonder about gravel bikes, disc forks, and big tires. If you have a rigid fork made for rough roads and cargo on the blades and a disc and an American sized rider, it just requires more material to survive, you probably need that 43 tire to get a comfortable ride. This is not the same as a roadie bike, at all.

Short travel forks only briefly existed on mountain bikes because at first they were retrofit for no-suspension frames where it was swiftly obvious they weren't enough. Added on edit: upon which they didn't throw up their hands, they went bigger and made the frames to use them.
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Old 08-16-21, 11:03 AM
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I think 'light' suspension for a gravel bike is fine but not for racing and probably why no pro uses it. But for the weekend warrior, it sure keeps my hands from numbing and is more comfortable. I say this is a 'go.'

But dropper posts? I see no need on a gravel bike. If you are riding a gravel bike and you need a dropper post, you're either riding on the wrong trail or the wrong bike, ie. you need a MTB.

As to the XPLR groupset, I'm fine with it and getting it on my upcoming Lauf True Grit. I thought the point was that it's relatively light. I doubt SRAM fixed the disc brake performance.
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Old 08-16-21, 01:28 PM
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The pricing seems ridiculous. The dropper post is $600 and the fork is $800. That's $1400 and 3lbs of extra moving parts to provide minimal suspension travel/dropper post capability.

I don't get it. Even if the pricing were half that, I still wouldn't understand it. You can get a sub 25lb XC MTB with 100mm of travel and a dropper post for less than $3k that would be far more capable on single track trails.
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Old 08-16-21, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Fentuz View Post
i was just pointing out that a xc hardtail with dropbar would be faster on connecting tarmac section.
manufacturers are blurring the different styles and you may not understand or like it, the kansas gravel race was won on a gravel fitted with suspension.
gravels are so popular that the segment is splitting into a more road long distance style and a more off road XC style.
Eh, kind of.

For the 200 mile event, the winning mens bike was a Specialized Diverge with a "Future Shock" stem/headset that has 20mm of travel, and is also sold on their Roubaix road bike. This is a lot different than the 1200 gram XPLR suspension fork. I don't see many (any?) actual suspension forks on any of the top 200 mile finisher's bikes... mens or women's.

The women's winner of the 317 mile XL race did it on a Specialized Epic hard-tail MTB with a 100mm SID Ultimate fork and a drop bar conversion. This may be a market for the XPLR fork, but to be clear, this was a 26hr race, so I'm not sure how much this setup translates to most people's gravel riding or marketing of new gravel products.

I don't see a dropper post on any of the bikes featured, and most of them are more road-oriented than XC. https://www.bikeradar.com/features/p...nd-2021-bikes/

Additionally, SRAM does not seem to be targeting gravel racers with the XPLR products. The marketing language on their website is about "comfort and capability" and "tackling rugged and variable terrain on a drop bar bike" and "taking the long road home", etc. Most/all of the photos are showing solo riders wearing baggy clothing and riding on rugged singletrack trails. https://www.sram.com/en/sram/xplr
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Old 08-17-21, 12:30 AM
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In the UK, orange sells bike with front 40mm shocks fox 32
https://www.orangebikes.com/bikes/x9-pro/2021

Island manufacturer lauf sells bike with their fork or sells the fork only with 30mm travel. Many people get them for cross country rides or bike packing.

canondale has the lefty

as mentioned above, some gravels run 2.1/2.2 tyres on 650b under 30psi with added rolling resistance but more comfort than a 35/38c @ 45psi. If by adding a suspension you can get better comfort on the road while using a 35c @ 45 psi with low rolling resistance, this is surely a benefit. An if in doing so, it makes it more off road capable, great.
yes, it adds a little bit on weight but as with CrMo bike, once, you get going, the added weight is fine.

that said, it would be interesting to see the powermeter figures betwen a bke fitted with large tyres vs a bike fitted with suspensions and semi slick

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Old 08-17-21, 07:57 AM
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The suspension dropper post is interesting but probably not essential. It's the top level launch and the AXS that's making it six hundred dollars. But the basic idea of a suspension dropper isn't new. PNW makes one. I believe theirs is bouncy for the whole travel until it's fully depressed, while the new SRAM product is locked out at top out. And the SRAM seems to have adjustable damping by where the AXS servo comes to rest. I honestly think this has less market than the suspension fork but there are other places to use it too... it would go great on the stoker's seat of a tandem.

The price of the fork is in line with other forks at the same feature level.
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